Toss a coin to your witcher

Volume Two which dropped late July on Netflix barely glosses over Cavill’s patchy appearances; the conduit could have been smoother

August 20, 2023


oss a Coin to Your Witcher” because Henry Cavill makes his final appearance as the magically enhanced mutant monster-hunter in the latest season of Netflix’s fantasy drama, The Witcher.

If this revelation comes as a surprise, you might have missed the announcement from last December that Cavill would be departing from the series with Australian actor Liam Hemsworth set to take on the lead role.

Following his departure announcement, Cavill revealed his return as Superman in Warner Bros’ DC Universe. There was widespread speculation that he left The Witcher to focus on a rigorous training regimen for his superhero role. However, fate took an unexpected turn when a few weeks later, Cavill was removed from the Superman role.

The Witcher draws its inspiration from the book series of the same name, authored by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The origins of The Witcher date back to 1986, when Sapkowski submitted a short story for a competition. Though he didn’t clinch the top prize, the story garnered substantial acclaim, motivating him to pen an additional 14 stories.

These writings laid the foundation for a sequence of novels that began in 1994, collectively referred to as The Witcher Saga. Over the next five years, Sapkowski published a book a year, culminating in the fifth and final volume in 1999. A standalone prequel novel, Season of Storms, was later released in 2013.

Set within the confines of a fictional medieval-esque realm called The Continent, the TV series delves into the saga of Geralt of Rivia portrayed by Henry Cavill, Yennefer of Vengerberg brought to life by Anya Chalotra and Princess Ciri played by Freya Allan.

The narrative commences with distinct storylines for each character throughout the initial season, eventually converging into a unified timeline. Geralt and Ciri’s destinies have been intertwined since before her birth, an event precipitated when he unwittingly invokes the Law of Surprise, demanding her as a reward for his services.

As their paths finally cross, Geralt assumes the role of the princess’s guardian, tasked with shielding her from assorted pursuers. His mission is to prevent the exploitation of her Elder Blood and potent magic for nefarious intentions, thereby safeguarding Ciri and their world.

Geralt, a ‘witcher’ (or a magical mutant crafted to track down and eliminate monsters) is bestowed upon a destiny that unfolds shortly after his birth. His mother, Visenna, relinquishes him to the rigours of training, leading him to join the ranks of the School of the Wolf at Kaer Morhen.

The witcher’s unique attributes encompass remarkable resistance to injuries, poisons and maladies, coupled with gradual [slow/fast?] ageing. Geralt’s distinct appearance, marked by the absence of body pigmentation, bestows upon him pale skin and a mane of white hair, earning him the moniker, The White Wolf.

Despite his scepticism towards the concept of destiny, Geralt unwittingly invokes the Law of Surprise, entitling him to the unborn child of Princess Pavetta and her husband Duny as a token of gratitude for his services. The fruit of this pact materialises in the form of a girl, named Cirilla and affectionately known as Ciri. This occurrence intertwines their fates profoundly.

Initially, Geralt hesitates to embrace his connection to Ciri, as women traditionally do not take the witcher path, but the wheels of fate drive Geralt and Ciri together on two occasions. Ultimately, he embraces the role of her guardian, assuming the positions of mentor, protector and paternal figure. Their bond deepens through training, affection and shared experiences, fostering a love that mirrors that of a father and daughter.

In this season, Geralt’s character undergoes a notable transformation, displaying a heightened sense of emotion and care than in the preceding two seasons. However, a peculiar shift occurs as he remains largely inactive throughout the latter portion of the series.

They are accompanied by Yennefer of Vengerberg, an immensely potent mage whose capabilities rank her among the most formidable on the continent, surpassed by only a select few. She finds herself drawn to Geralt, forming a deep connection and eventually evolving into a guiding presence as a mentor and maternal figure for Ciri.

As a united trio, the three characters embark on a journey that places them in direct opposition to mighty monarchs, expansive armies, mages of great power and, of course, a variety of menacing creatures.

Upon its initial launch, the series earned acclaim for its loyalty to the original narrative, which masterfully balanced elements of darkness and humour.

The second season took a slight detour, entangling the characters more deeply in Continental politics and global affairs, momentarily shifting focus from the core trio.

Season three, which unfolds in two volumes, thrusts us back into the saga, finding Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri in a state of fugitive escape across the entire Continent.

Volume One, comprising the initial five episodes, culminates in an exhilarating climax as Geralt readies himself for a monumental confrontation with the newly unveiled villain, Ciri embarks on a journey toward independence and Yennefer pivots away from choices that seemed nonsensical.

Unfortunately, the final trio of episodes, released as Volume Two in late July, fails to match the tension. In this season, Geralt’s character undergoes a notable transformation, displaying a heightened sense of emotion and care than in the preceding two seasons. Henry Cavill delivers a compelling performance, showcasing his range.

However, a peculiar shift occurs as he remains largely inactive throughout the latter portion of the series, which is somewhat surprising given the opportunity for Cavill to conclude on a triumphant note. Suffering a severe beating, Geralt is forced to retreat to the refuge of the forest-dwelling dryads for magical healing.

Additionally, Ciri finds herself wandering alone in a desolate desert while Yennefer grapples with resolving loose ends alongside the few surviving mages from Aretuza.

Regrettably, none of these developments are particularly compelling which poses an issue given their roles as the show’s narrative and emotional core. The conclusion does not serve as an ideal farewell for Cavill and misses an unusual opportunity to exploit disfigurement and potent healing magic to introduce Liam Hemsworth’s rendition of Geralt.

Cinematography remains a potential area for improvement lacking the refinement seen in prior seasons. Jaskier, played by Joey Batey, reprises his role as a source of comic relief yet the absence of a captivating musical number is felt.

The season, however, positions Ciri for an increasingly active role in the forthcoming narratives. A new ally for Geralt, named Milva, portrayed by Meng’er Zhang, enters the scene as an archer who aids in his recovery.

As anticipated, Netflix’s commitment to sustaining The Witcher remains steadfast regardless of Henry Cavill’s involvement. The series has enjoyed popularity since its debut season.

Nevertheless, it is evident that the challenge of maintaining viewer engagement after Cavill’s departure looms. While the show might secure a few more seasons, the actor’s anti-climactic exit has not helped its cause.

The writer is a digital communication expert and consultant currently working in the public sector. He is the mastermind behind the digital platforms, Sukhan, Mani’s Cricket Myths and Over The Line